On Wednesday, March 26, 2014,
in United Nations,
by Bhuchung K. Tsering
[caption id="attachment_5054" align="alignright" width="300"] Photo circulated by Ti-anna Wang identifying the person from the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture as the one who intimidated her.[/caption]
On March 20, 2014, there was a very vibrant “discussion” on Tibet during the session at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on China’s response to recommendations on its Universal Periodic Review.
Tibet wasn’t reality the main topic, but then the action of the Chinese delegation led to focus on it. A Chinese delegate made a very childish and disdainful objection to a representative of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)'s reference to Human Rights in China and the International Campaign for Tibet (which are legal members of FIDH), which joined FIDH on its statement on abuses in Tibet. This led to many democratic governments to take China to task. The German delegate in fact called the Chinese intervention as a “rape” of the process. You can watch a video of the proceedings on the ICT website.
But this blog is about another development at the same UN session. Ti-Anna Wang, the daughter of the imprisoned Chinese democracy advocate Wang Bingzhang, was there to draw attention to her father’s case. As reported by the New York Times, “According to Ms. Wang, in a report corroborated by a United Nations spokesman, Rolando Gómez, a Chinese member of a nongovernmental organization first openly, then stealthily, photographed her and the screen of her laptop computer during hearings on Wednesday on adopting China’s human rights report, known as the Universal Periodic Review.”
The New York Times added, “An incident occurred yesterday involving photographing at close range,” Mr. Gómez said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “It was perceived as an act of intimidation by the U.N. officials who witnessed it.” The UN subsequently decided to disbar the individual.
This does not surprise me because as these Chinese officials would do anything to prevent any other views than their own from being expressed. But what drew my attention was that Ms. Wang identified the man as a delegate of the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture (CAPDTC).
So, what is the story behind this organization with a socially relevant name?
It was set up by the Chinese Government as one of its NGOs (or as sarcastically known in the NGO circle as a “Government Organized NGO” or GONGO) to confront international support for Tibet, specifically on the issue of destruction of Tibetan culture. On paper, it is supposed to “endeavor to preserve and develop Tibetan culture, protect human rights, and promote unity, harmony and common prosperity of people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.”
But since its inception, it has been used as a forum to launch propaganda campaigns against critics of China’s misguided policies towards the Tibetan people. So, this individual’s presence at the UN in Geneva was part of the strategy to undermine the work of the genuine NGOs interested in Tibet and China.
But that raises another issue, one that the Chinese delegate tried to use to stifle the voice of FIDH; namely the credibility of an NGO. The China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture claims to be an NGO with consultative status approved by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. But it openly admits that it is registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and “subject to the Ministry’s supervision, inspection and administration.” If there is a need for further indication of the GONGO status, then Mr. Zhu Weiqun, who currently occupies a position in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference is secretary-general of CAPDTC and Mr. Sithar, one of the vice ministers of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party is also a vice chairman of CAPDTC.
So how could an organization that is administered by a Government Ministry and led by Chinese government officials be an NGO? That is a story for another day.
The New York Times reported that “Multiple attempts to reach the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture by telephone and email failed.” Obviously, they were dialing the wrong number. They should have contacted the Central United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, if they wanted a response.
Finally, if the CAPDTC is really “composed of volunteers from both home and abroad who love Tibetan culture and are concerned about its preservation and development” why did they have to wait till June 21, 2004, when it was founded when Tibet was “liberated” way back in the 1950s?
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